With not having any holiday allowance left to take, I couldn’t do the usual half day thing. I toyed with taking my gear to work to change in to but there’s not really the facilities to do that, so decided to go to the game in my work clothes. Made sure there wasn’t any company logos showing though. I don’t get paid to advertise. Less chance of anyone asking me about the two bit firm I work for too. I cadged a grateful lift in to town off my workmate Paul and got in the Wellington as soon as I could physically get there without running after being dropped off. By the time I’d got my first pint, I was more than ready for it. Jinksy, Darrell (Also in his work gear), J.K., Steve and Dingle Dave were already upstairs. I hadn’t seen Dave for a few weeks. Not since Hibs had beaten Hearts in the first Derby game of the season. To that end, he was never going let that result slip his memory when seeing me. Hearts and their new main stand was the topic of much derision. It’s been a catalogue of errors and mishaps since they demolished the old one. It’s got to the stage where even I find it comical, so I joined in. Dave had read my blog where I’d mentioned him. I won’t say what it was I wrote about but he found it hilarious, much the same as I did when I was first told on the way to Sheffield. . . I’ll just leave it there. My lack of trainers was noted by Darrell, who deduced that I’d been to work with one of those questions you know the answer before you’ve even asked it. We vacated the upstairs to head to the Woodman. We swapped stories and compared notes of our day out in Sheffield and also mine and Steve’s day out in Fleetwood. I’m not going to name him but one of us is a little concerned about the part he played at Millwall. Especially with the Birmingham Mail releasing images of fans wanted for various offences committed at the Blues v Villa game. Personally, I think he’ll be fine as it’s not like he’s a usual suspect but you never know. Maybe he will end up a c.c.t.v. star. Anyway, apparently, J.K. was definitely worse for wear at Sheffield. Drinking other peoples pints and all sorts. Whether it was because it was a Monday or because it was Wolves, we didn’t know but the Dig Brew, Ruin and the Klink were all shut. We know, we walked passed them all. We even went into the Ruin to be told that it was shut. We had a quick look in The Old Crown. Doombar was the only ale on. None of us were going to settle for that so we trooped back out and on to The White Swan. Just after we all got served, Spoons came in. Like me, Spoons is a Peaky Blinders freak. The new series has simply crackled. We both enjoyed the last series but it hadn’t been as good as the first two. It’s back to its best now. There were a few times when the last series had gaps in the plot and the acting carried it but this new series is water tight plot wise. Even the back story is getting told. We analysed the previous episode like we always do. Picking out the bits that had stood out for us. Laughing again at the things we found funny. The programme is watched all over the world but for us Blues fans, it’s “Ours”. Written by a Blues fan about a cool gangster family from Small Heath. Home of the Blues. While on the move between the Swan and the Dog, we could hear the police version barking their heads off round the front of the Irish centre. Could see the fluorescents controlling them. We weren’t going passed there anyway so we weren’t going to get any hassle. We joined Aida, Nick, Russell and one of the postmen that I can’t remember the name of, in the garden. A certain person and his cousin was mentioned. It’s going to be a story that is going to roll on for years, I can see it. We’d got to the event of the day and my version of Christmas. The F.A.Cup 3rd round draw. Since I’d been bitten by the football bug all those centuries ago, the F.A.Cup has always been the one trophy I’ve wanted Blues to win. When I was a kid and the dinosaurs were still roaming the Earth, the Premier league just a dark blemish on the far off horizon, the F.A.Cup was huge. A game in any round would attract a much bigger crowd than a normal league game. I’m not talking a few hundred, I’m talking a few thousand. The final itself was the only domestic game that was televised live. There was only three T.V. channels and two of them had the game. That wasn’t it though. Both I.T.V. and the Beeb showed the build up throughout the morning. It made it special. It’s an after thought now but back then, it was the most important thing on the planet. (Seemed it anyway) How many of us, at just before 12:30 on the respective Monday lunchtime tuned the transistor to radio 2 to hear the words “And now we cross over to Lancaster Gate for the draw for the F.A.Cup 3rd round” or whichever round it was? These days, they televise it. Try and give it a bit more prominence. Regardless of how it happens, I still get the same goosebumps. That nervous expectation. The very same feeling you get when you’re opening your Christmas presents. What you going to get? Something you really want? Something that makes you spontaneously grin like a loon? Or a thought that counts present that you have to fake smile about if the person who’s bought you said gift is present? Home or away? Big club at home? Little club away? Ground you haven’t been to? Or a club in the same league as yourselves? We huddled round the live feed on whoever’s phone. Jinksy in my case. We drew Burton Albion at home. The equivalent of a pair of socks. We drank up and almost got tangled up with the escorted Wolves lot.
Wolves a wandering
Wolves looked organised and confident. Runs off the ball. Passes with purpose. You could see why they were top of the league Blues looked the exact opposite. Passes went astray, tackles missed. The effort was there but we were running round like headless chickens. You could see why we were in the bottom three. Wolves scored but it didn’t look over the line but then I am biased. All supporters are when they’re watching their own team. Halftime and it probably should have been more. I got talking to Martin, a fellow block elevener, on the concourse. He said his missus had text him to say she’d watched it on Sky and it was over the line. You can’t argue with technology I suppose, even if I still do. He wants Garry Rowett back. I don’t. He reckoned that 80% of Blues fans want him back. I did a straw poll when I got back to my seat. Justin agreed with Martin but the rest didn’t. Second half started with Jota replaced by Gleeson. We were better organised and were better going forward too but we never looked like scoring. It had been a feisty game and the bookings started. Harlee Dean collected the full set. Two meant one and eleven became ten. It seems to me that referees favour teams at the top of the league. It’s not a conspiracy paranoia thing either, there’s a general consensus with fans from other clubs as well as Blues that this happens. I’ve been ground hopping watching clubs I’ve no allegiance with, and seen it. Anyway, it meant that Wolves could breathe a little easier as they saw the game out. They’d got their win. Hard fought but still a win.
For whatever reason, the Ol Bill had blocked my usual cut through down the back streets in to town, so I had to walk the long way back. I was that hungry I got something from McDonald’s. I was that hungry, I actually enjoyed it. I caught the 51 back from town. It was heading to Walsall. I assumed that that was where the three Wolves fans were going, who also got on the bus. They looked a bit flustered and lost. Did I mention rather scruffy too? And they wonder why we call them Dingles.